Loreena Thiessen: Giving Thanks for History

Do you know that history can make you more thankful?

In 1620, almost 400 years ago, a group of 120 Pilgrims sailed from England across the ocean. They came looking for a new place to settle, a safe place where they could worship God and live in peace. They landed in America. They came for the same reasons people still come today.

Only 45 years earlier Martin Frobisher, another Englishman, also set out across the ocean. He was looking for a new passage to India for trade. Instead he found Labrador, the most eastern coast of Canada. It was a rough voyage and very cold. When he was finally able to land he made a feast to thank God for safety and for the abundance of food to share.

After the Pilgrims settled they needed a new leader. The people chose their new leader by voting, each person making a choice. The one with the most votes became the new leader. The people also solved other problems by voting. This is called a democracy.

And they wrote a set of rules called the constitution. The constitution is a set of rules the government must follow. These laws guide the government’s decisions and protect its people.

Today you benefit from both of these events. Since then many thousands of immigrants have come to Canada and the United States from many different countries. They are teachers and doctors, and your friends and neighbours. Some of them may be your family.

Canada, too, has a constitution. Canada’s constitution gives you the right to speak your language, get an education, visit the doctor, and choose your friends. You can also choose your Prime Minister by voting once you are an adult.

A hundred years ago if you got sick you had to pay to see a doctor. A stay in the hospital would cost even more. Not everyone could pay. People used many home remedies. For example, dry mustard was mixed to form a paste and would be placed on your chest if you had a cough. Epsom salts were put on cuts to clean them. Onion halves and garlic were placed on window sills to absorb viruses and bacteria.

Many people did not get well. A man called Tommy Douglas wanted to change that. He believed that every Canadian deserved the right to have good health care if he had money or not. He saw sick people suffer because they could not see a doctor. He wanted to help them.

To help them he joined the government. He made speeches to tell everyone his plan. In 1966 his plan came true. Today you and each Canadian can see a doctor if you are sick.

When early settlers first arrived in Canada there were no roads. People travelled by boat or over trails on horseback. Canada’s first cars were imported in 1898 from the United States. In 1904 the Ford Motor Company was the first factory to build Canadian cars. The factory was in Toronto.

Mr. Henry Ford tested his cars by first trying them out on the rooftop of his factory. He wanted them to be safe for every Canadian family. But roads were bad, full of deep holes, and, cars often had to drive through creeks to get to the other side. A long trip across Canada could take many months.

In 1949 the government first approved the TransCanada Highway. Construction began in 1950 and, although it was officially open by 1962, it was only completed in 1971. Did you know the TransCanada Highway is the longest highway in the world? It is 7,714 kilometers long from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

Loreena Thiessen

Today this highway lets you travel from the east coast, across the prairies, and through the Rocky Mountains in about a week. Stopping along the way to enjoy all the beautiful places would take much longer.

Think about all the things you enjoy. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from God.” What are you thankful for?

Activity: Make a leaf garland.

Need: coloured craft paper, hole-punch, scissors, pencil or felt pen, string, straight twig.

Do: Draw, or trace, leaf shapes (you can use real leaves to trace around) on different colours of paper. Cut them out. Write one thing you are thankful for on each leaf. Punch a hole at the end of each leaf. Pull a short piece of string through each hole and hang the leaves on the twig. Display the twig on a shelf or in a window.




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